What The Affordable Care Act Means For Transfer Students

by Chad Agrawal

communityAccording to the Center for Post secondary and Economic Success (CLASP), the number of uninsured people aged between 18 and 34 years is almost double that of people aged over 35 years. The problem is most of these young adults tend to be students in college or university. The lack of coverage can make it hard for a student to access treatment in the event of an emergency. However, there is some good news because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes it easy for such students to get medical coverage.

Coverage for Community College Students

Many community colleges do not offer Student Health Insurance Plans (SHIPS). Figures published by CLASP show that only 29% of colleges that offer two-year education programs have insurance plans for students. For students in these institutions, they will benefit greatly from ACA because it allows them to access low cost health insurance until the age of 26. This is in addition to tax credits and expanded Medicaid eligibility. These benefits can make a huge difference because most of the students who enroll in community colleges work fulltime or part-time.

For instance, students who earn anywhere from 133 to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for tax credits. Although such credits are refundable, one cannot use them to purchase catastrophic plans. In addition, you can receive these tax credits even if you have not filed tax returns in the past. Take note that the IRS calculates tax credits for students based on one's monthly insurance premium plan.

Coverage for Transfer Students

Some students transfer from community colleges to traditional universities. This may be due to the desire to further their education credentials or access better education facilities such as research centers. Such students may want to know whether changing learning institutions has any effect on accessing health insurance plans.

The good news is students who attend traditional learning institutions are eligible for ACA. However, there are caveats that a student transferring to a university must know about. To start with, the institution you are transferring to must have a written agreement with an insurer to offer coverage to students. This agreement must comply with regulations stipulated in the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Secondly, the coverage should comply with laws laid down by the state where a student is attending university. Thirdly, an insurer should not deny coverage to students even if they have pre-existing medical conditions including mental illnesses or physical disabilities. Finally, health coverage should only be available in connection with enrollment as a student. Nevertheless, universities are at liberty to set their own additional requirements such as defining who qualifies to be a student. It is important to note that the regulations described above do not apply to transfer students who have self-insured health plans. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), such students already have the minimum essential coverage.

You should also note that the institution you transfer to may charge a student administrative health fee. The aim of this fee is to offset medical costs regardless of whether you use your university's health clinic or have a student coverage plan.

Finally, your university health coverage may contain annual dollar limits on health benefits that you can access. For instance, your coverage may have a $100,000 limit for the 2012/2013 year. Nevertheless, this will change in 2014 when all plans must eliminate annual limits.

Overall, students currently enrolled in community colleges but would like to transfer to traditional universities can enjoy ACA benefits, too. Such benefits include expanded Medicaid eligibility, coverage for dependent's until age 26, cost sharing subsidies, and premium tax credits. Students who opt to buy individual plans can still apply for tax credits on the marketplace.

About The Author

Ryan Ayers is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education. In this article, he describes the affects of the Affordable Care Act on students and aims to encourage further study with a paralegal degree at George Washington University.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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